Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's not easy bein' green

When I arrived in Sandema in January, everything was a yellowy-brown colour, including the sun, the ground, even the trees seemed to fit into this colour scheme. 

The lovely brown tones of Sandema in January

Poppy, Jenna, Will and I slowly adjusted to the lack of greenery, only made more intense by the increasingly stifling temperatures.  At the end of March, I headed to the south of Ghana for a holiday and a tour of some of Ghana’s more obvious/popular tourist attractions - I felt like I had entered a different country; not only was the climate completely different – don’t get me wrong it was still blisteringly hot compared to UK weather standards, but not as deathly as it is in the north due to a cool breeze and a little more humidity (In fact there were times when I can say I was a little cold and would have welcomed a jumper!), but the scenery changed quite dramatically as well.  Everything was green.  Really green.  It was beautiful, but so different from the landscape in the north of the country. 

Green, green, tall trees in Kakum National Park

Flourishing plant-life in the lake at Nzeluzu, near Benin 
In Ghana, it isn’t only the landscape which changes dramatically from the north to the south – whilst there are some inherent constants in this country (like the incredibly welcoming nature of the Ghanaian people), there are also a lot of things that differ, even if you only travel 10 minutes up the road, such as the languages.  There are, according to Wikipedia (which is, of course, an entirely reliable source..ahem!) a total of 81 different languages in Ghana, including Twi, Dagbani, Kasem, and Buli, the language we are learning here in the Builsa district (English is the official language of Ghana).  Many of the Ghanaians I have met over the past 4 months have been able to speak at least 5 or 6 different languages.  

So upon trekking to the south of Ghana (it was hardly a trek sat on a rather comfortable plane with a free drink and something resembling a chicken sandwich, but I’m allowed a little bit of artistic licence!), it was rather unsettling to be confronted with an entirely green, yet considerably more developed (they actually have tar roads, and the cars have seat belts.  I even travelled in a trotro which had air conditioning, and by this I don’t mean the window was missing either) landscape and not being able to understand a single word anyone was saying.  I am by no means fluent in Buli, but I can at least recognise the odd word here and there and can generally figure out what people are trying to say to me, or about me.  The confidence I had parading around Sandema’s dusty and quiet streets was zapped as I entered what felt like a completely new country upon arrival in the hustle and bustle of Accra, and then travelling around the green, leafy, and humid southern regions.

At the end of our week off and after the induction week for the new volunteers, I was getting quite restless to get back to my Ghanaian home; a place that is now very familiar to me.  I was looking forward to being reunited with the hues featuring entirely on the orange-yellow side of the colour wheel.  After just 3 weeks away, I was amazed as we drove through Sandema to our house….everything was GREEN!  

In the short time I had been away, and even more so over the past 2 weeks, Sandema has changed from being entirely orange and yellow, to include every colour on the colour wheel!  The trees are most definitely green, as are the fields surrounding our house and little flowers in a striking red colour dot many of the trees, and there is water everywhere adding a bluey-greeny-grey tinge to the landscape. 

If Poppy, Jenna, and Will were here now they would think they were in a different place.  I can only imagine what Sandema will look like in a few weeks when the rains really begin!

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